The Alice City Council voted Thursday to terminate the employment of City Manager Andy Joslin and City Attorney David Towler during a somewhat contentious meeting.
The executive session was moved to the beginning of their meeting and after two hours behind closed doors, Council members began public discussion.
Alice residents, some wearing bright orange shirts that said "Team Joslin," were in attendance.
It was Councilwoman Yolanda Sosa-Moran who made the motion to terminate employment of City Attorney Towler. Councilwoman Cynthia Carrasco seconded that motion.
"I have done what I could to protect the City. My client is the City of Alice. It is not the City Council. It is not any individual City Council member. It is not the City Manager. It is the City as a governmental unit," Towler said. "I have done everything I could to protect the interest of that client. Sometimes to protect the interests of that client against members of this City Council. If doing the right thing gets me fired, I'll sleep well tonight."
Towler's comments prompted clapping and cheers from Alice residents.
Watch the entire Executive Session here:
"Well, Mr. Towler, I apologize that we could not provide an evaluation for you as to what you could have fixed in order to do your job better," Mayor Jolene Vanover said. "And I apologize that we failed you as a City of Alice Council, that we couldn't help you to make it a better place to work, and I thank you for your service sir."
The vote came, with the only vote against firing Towler coming from Councilman Pete Crisp.
Councilwoman Elida Garza left early because she was not feeling well, but when she was still present Councilwoman Sosa-Moran made a motion to name John Lemon as the Interim City Attorney. Carrasco seconded that motion.
There was some dispute as Mayor Vanover asked Councilwoman Sosa-Moran for a reason for Lemon's appointment.
"Mayor, you don't get to deliberate this," Sosa-Moran responded.
"No ma'am, this is discussion," Vanover said.
The same question was asked of other council members.
"I have nothing against Mr. Lemon," Councilman Crisp said. "However, this is being forced. I feel this is being forced. This is premeditated. There were some things that happened in the past that set our city attorney up for failure. There are some things that happened in the past that set some other things up. So this is not just happening. This is planned. This is action taken long before people were elected."
"I take offense to that," Councilwoman Carrasco said.
"I'm sorry," Crisp responded, "but that's my personal opinion. You can take offense all you want."
Carrasco referred to Crisp's comments as false accusations before the meeting was back in order and the motion to appoint Lemon as interim city attorney went to vote -- again, Crisp was the only one who voted against it.
The next agenda item that was discussed pertained to terminating employment of City Manager Andy Joslin, who spoke for a while about the City's performance evaluations and how he had worked with council members and accomplished what they had asked of him.
"I've done everything that I can to work with you individually," Joslin said. "The only two things that you asked me to do as a Council was one, open the natatorium, and two, hire our finance director within 30 days. Those two things were accomplished."
Again, it was Sosa-Moran who made the motion, and Carrasco seconded it. The motion to terminate Joslin went to vote and passed -- and once again Crisp was the only one to vote against it.
"I would just like to say, for the record, Mr. Joslin you have done an amazing job. It has been my pleasure to work with you," Mayor Vanover said. She cited his accomplishments -- like opening the multi-use complex, saving the City a $100,000 position, and helping them recover from a $7 million deficit.
"I can only sit here and talk about all the good that you've done for this city, and I apologize once again to you that you were even on the agenda today," Vanover said. "I was shocked when I saw that, especially being that we're going into budget and you have done so much. The deficit that you have saved us from -- almost $7 million in one year. You saved the City a position, a $100,000 position. Never complained. Just did your job, and somebody else's job. And worked close with the girls -- and I am going to say they cried, because you worked with them. And it's sad that people don't give you that credit, and for whatever premeditation that they had coming in here -- on election day, they shook hands with somebody, I don't know what they did -- but it's very obvious that it's showing here today, and I apologize for that."
Again, there were claps from the audience.
In the end, City Clerk Diana Lopez was named Interim City Manager, a position she accepted after Council said they would immediately begin the search for a permanent city manager.